HELENA — Helena Capital defensive back Gus Hanson is familiar with overcoming adversity after suffering a broken collarbone while mountain biking in early August 2017, which forced him to watch the majority of his junior football season from the sidelines.
Hanson, who just announced his commitment on Twitter to play football at Montana Western, didn’t let the setback deter him and remained a part of the team during his junior year to get mentally ready to play his senior season, according to Bruins’ coach Kyle Mihelish.
Thinking he overcame the injury, Hanson aggravated his collarbone six plays into trying to come back and ended his junior season.
“Any injury (in football) messes with you mentally, but Gus handled the injury the right way,” Mihelish said. “He was at every practice, every meeting, every event and football dinner, or whatever we had. Sometimes, kids get injured and they disappear, but Gus never did that. He was still a part of the team and the roster, and he even helped us film. He just went about his injury the right way.”
Hanson persevered and overcame the adversity between his junior and senior season to cultivate himself into a college-caliber athlete.
“Staying around during my junior year really helped out knowing the defense,” Hanson said. “Staying with everyone and seeing how everything was run really helped out. I wasn’t expecting to perform the way I did my senior year. I never thought about it happening, which is pretty exciting.”
Hanson’s continued participation allowed him to prepare for his senior year, a critical season for him to attract prospective college teams.
“He was in every film session and understood every game plan going into the game, and he mentally prepared himself for his senior season," Mihelish said.
Hanson’s preparation combined with his natural athleticism allowed the Bruins to utilize him in multiple schemes, and defense, according to Mihelish.
“With a good corner, you can do a lot of different things schematically," Mihelish said. "Gus was good enough to play man or zone coverage situations, and double situations with the safety when you wanted to take away your best receiver. He was able to do all of those things because he understands the game of football.”
Hanson’s aptitude in the classroom also paid dividends on the gridiron.
“Gus is a tremendous worker in the classroom,” Mihelish said. “He gets good grades, he is a respectful and intelligent young man, and that translates into the film room. He understood the philosophy and understood schematically what we wanted to do. You need smart football players to have success.”
Transitioning from high school ball to college football can be daunting, a transition Hanson said he is looking forward to.
“The level of competition will be a lot different after practice,” Hanson said. “I look forward to competing on the practice field against other teammates, and I am looking forward to the increased level of competition.”
Hanson, who is now headed to play at Montana Western, an NAIA school in Dillon, will find his place on the field, according to Mihelish. Hanson will prepare to study business and finance at Western.
“He will have to learn Western’s defensive scheme, but with his ability athletically, he will find a spot on the field and in special teams as well,” Mihelish said. “During the spring and summer, he watched many films and was able to mentally grasp everything that we were doing in the offseason. He was athletically gifted enough to make the transition his senior year, even though he did lose his junior year to that collarbone injury.”
Hanson, who is Mihelish’s godson, is following in the footsteps of Mihelish, who played the same position in college as a defensive back at Western Montana University.